Martin Lusis had no idea what he was getting himself into until he hovered over Fiji waters and stepped on Fiji soil. He had very little time to evaluate his expectations of the so-called 'little paradise' that many travellers had so often coined and he himself had witnessed in three months. But one might often picture this lad as a tourist or someone looking for pleasure as many other youths across the European continent look for at time where a longing for some sun, sea and white sandy beaches are available to beat out the eight degree-Celsius temperature in Europe.
In fact, for over the span of three months, Lusis has kept himself busy behind paperwork, brainstorming disaster-management practicalities in the Fiji-based Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).
On a typical Friday or after work during the week ,you'd often find him amongst his colleagues and friends greeting the barman or spot him in the usual hang-out in the clubs.
The 21-year old hails from a setting in Eastwell village where England's very own Robin Hood originated from, Nottingham Shire. Martin comes from a humble family background with a younger sister and father who's a dentist in their village while his mother works at his dental clinic.
The passionate traveller heard about Fiji over a couple of drinks at a pub in Thailand where he had spent seven months on attachment with the Disaster Management Unit in Bangkok. "Two ladies, Litea Biukoto and Jutta May, told me that if ever I needed a postgraduate attachment I could be lucky to land one in SOPAC," he said. "I'm currently doing an undergraduate degree in Disaster Management at Conventry University. After I completed my attachment in Bankok, despite the fact that I was still an undergrad, over a couple of polite emails I was accepted in SOPAC. I was nervous at first because the position is not a paid one, however, I kept my mind open and focused on what was ahead of me."
When asked why he chose Fiji, he said Fiji was a culturally diverse country and he wanted to learn everything possible which other travellers talked about. "The family I stayed with and the friends I've developed have not only made it easier for me in terms of saving time and money, but made my stay worth it and enjoyable. Over the last three months I've spent here, I've made new contacts, worked with people who are so intuitive and developed a kind of tight-nip friendship I never imagined I could find. The people are wonderful. In England everyone's so busy and uptight. Over here, despite the fact that people have work to do, they still find time to make you feel at home," he said.
"From a European perspective, I found in the Yasawas that new technology is related to early warning system in Fiji, it's amazing," he said. "On my second day here I took a walk around Raiwaqa and came across a Police team playing rugby. They called me to join them so for the next week I started to play alongside the team. It's a shame I couldn't play in any of their major games because I got tied up at work," he said. "My colleagues at work then introduced me to paddling. Back home you can't paddle much because it's freezing and the water is digusting," Martin said.
"I'm due to fly back soon and I'm not excited about that at all. Three months is not enough and I believe that I could learn a great deal more from this place not just with work but also with the people around here. The one thing I'd miss most is living on an island where back home the sea is so far off. On any given day I could easily take a walk down to Suva Point or out on the coast enjoying the white beaches of the island.
He said people in Fiji were so keen to migrate for better jobs, but he found traditions and culture was more important.
"Don't lose your tradition, it's special. Tracing back origins and traditional identity is what's happening in many countries around the world. Fiji and the Pacific should be proud that they still have this aspect and that's one thing to be proud of," he said. "The way of life and the working environment here wouldn't suit the lifestyle back home but I've enjoyed every minute here," he said.
Martin has visted Malaysia, Burma, Tanzania and gone all around Europe but the environment and satisfaction of Fiji is better. Martin left for home on Tuesday but plans to return to Fiji for another adventure in the not too distant future.